Saudi Arabia to mediate in Hariri tribunal dispute

Saudi Arabia agreed to host a meeting to resolve a dispute over the formation of an international tribunal to try suspects in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, the UN Secretary Genral Ban Ki-moon said.

Saudi Arabia to mediate in Hariri tribunal dispute
Saudi Arabia agreed to host a meeting to resolve a dispute over the formation of an international tribunal to try suspects in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, the UN Secretary Genral Ban Ki-moon said.

Earlier this week, Nabih Berri, Lebanon's parliament speaker who opposes plans for an international tribunal, asked for Saudi help in resolving Lebanon's months-old political crisis, Ban said.

The UN chief also said that Berri demanded the UN to provide legal assistance on the formation of a Hariri tribunal – a major point of difference between pro- and anti-Syrian members of the Lebanese parliament.

Saniora's anti-Syrian cabinet majority has approved the tribunal and the prime minister has been pressing parliament to approve it.

Last Tuesday, Berri refused to call Lebanon's parliament into session to approve the creation of the Hariri tribunal for the third time in three weeks.

The anti-Syrian majority in parliament then sent a memorandum to Ban calling on the UN Security Council to independently establish an international tribunal.

Ban said he was studying the petition from the Lebanese MPs, but made clear he wants to see what Saudi Arabia can do before deciding what to recommend to the Council. He also said that he is willing to send UN legal counsel Nicolas Michel to attend consultations involving the Saudis.

"It is crucially important at this time to establish at an early date, as urged by the Security Council, for a special tribunal into the assassination case," Ban said.

Saudi Arabia, which is increasingly taking a bigger role in Middle East affairs, backs the Western-backed government of anti-Syrian PM Saniora. The Saudis have been trying to resolve the Hariri tribunal dispute and mediate with the Lebanese opposition on its demand for a national unity government. So far, their efforts haven't borne any fruit.

The U.S. and France support demands by the anti-Syrian bloc for establishing a tribunal to prosecute those responsible for the Feb. 14, 2005 assassination of Hariri, which led to widespread protests in Lebanon and extensive international pressure on Syria, forcing it to withdraw all its forces from its neighbor.

"Good idea"

Berri's initiative "to try to establish unity within Lebanon and consensus on the setting up of the special tribunal ... sounds like a good idea, said Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin.

Churkin said the UN probe into the Hariri murder, which has implicated Syrian officials in the killing, has been extended until June 2008 so "there is some room for negotiation, and we believe that that room must be fully exploited."

Syria vehemently denies any involvement in Hariri's assassination. It also denies claims by some members of the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority that it wants to block the formation of the tribunal.

Hezbollah, whose members in parliament walked out of the cabinet recently over the government's failure to form a unity coalition, warns that a UN-imposed tribunal will be "against Lebanon and not to try the killers of Premier Hariri." 
Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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